Hate Speech Legislation Curbing on Freedom of Expression

Country: Sweden

Date of incident: May 21, 2013

Swedish penal law contains the crime “agitation against a national or ethnic group,” a crime that carries a maximum penalty of 2 years in prison. The Swedish government charged four activists who wanted to “start a debate about the lack of objectivity in the education in Swedish schools” by distributing leaflets on the "homosexual agenda".

The Swedish Supreme Court acknowledged the applicants’ right to express their ideas, but found the statements had been “unnecessarily offensive.” Ultimately, the first three applicants were given suspended sentences combined with fines ranging from approximately 200 to 2,000 Euros and the fourth applicant was sentenced to probation. Source and further information: The Observatory's Report 2012 on Legal Restrictions Effecting Christians in Europe